Monday, July 19, 2010

How one of the greatest 19th century Christian Hebraists unwittingly inspired the true observance of Tisha B'av.

Some years ago Dr. Shnayer Leiman called attention to, and translated, a really interesting anecdote for the Ninth of Av buried in an obscure Hungarian rabbinic journal from the 1920s. In brief, the great Orientalist Ignaz Goldziher told a young Leopold Greenwald, later to become an American rabbi and historian, how their teacher Franz Delitzsch paid a shiva call of sorts to him and Wilhelm Bacher on Tisha B'av.

You can download the entire translation here, but here is the relevant passage in the original Hebrew and in translation:

The journal is אפריון No.2 5685 (1925), and the translation appears in Tradition 25(4), Summer 1991, From the Pages of Tradition: R. Leopold Greenwald: Tish'ah Be-av at the University of Leipzig by Shnayer Z. Leiman, where all the biographical info of the participants are given.


  1. I remember how moved I was when I read this years ago. We all ought to read it every year at this time. Thanks for posting it.


  2. Also see this post, where I point out that Delitzsch even managed to find beauty in a rabbinic discussion of the different colors of blood.



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